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By Micah Halpern

Tuesday March 24, 2009


Makara. It means deceit. It is part of an ancient Arabic custom, still practiced today.

Kyhr. It means subterfuge. In Arabic the word kyhr shares a root with the word makara. Makara and Kyhr its root are mentioned 43 times in the Koran.

Certain concepts, inconceivable to the Western mind, are commonplace and easily comprehendible to the Arabic mind. In order to understand the Arabic mind, in order to anticipate the decision making process that goes on in the Arab world, the West must suspend its own system of beliefs and open its collective mind to allow for contradictions in words and actions.

Mohammed Dahlan is one of the most significant leaders the Palestinian people have who is neither in hiding nor imprisoned in Israel. Tall, broad shouldered, well dressed and smooth talking, Dahlan is known as the strong arm man of Fatah. It was Dahlan who was responsible for security in Gaza and the West Bank. It was Dahlan who was at the helm when Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza, essentially ousting him as security chief. Mohammed Dahlan has a vendetta to settle with Hamas. Not only was he publicly embarrassed, but the armed forces under his control were horribly treated and brutally killed.

And still, Dalhlan, the face of Fatah, and Hamas are joined at the hip when it comes to Israel.

In a recent interview on PA TV (Palestinian Television) Mohammed Dahlan said, simply and matter-of-factly, that the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel, but that Fatah does not. A shocking contradiction? Yes, if you are a Westerner. Not at all if you are a Palestinian.

Dahlan said that Fatah was not asking Hamas to recognize Israel. He explained that the only reason the Palestinian Authority recognized Israel was to get the money that the Western world was doling out to the Palestinians because they had made that concession and publicly claimed to accept Israel. He said the PA would never get the money if they did not recognize Israel. But that was the PA, not Fatah. A distinction with a difference.

In the minds of most Westerners, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are one and the same, it is Hamas that is on the outside. In the mind of Mohammed Dahlan and his compatriots, things look different. Dahlan is adept at double speak, and double speak has a long history in the Arab world.

Double speak is one of the many facets of makara and in the Arab world, makara has both positive and negative attributes.

In the Koran, in both Sura 3:54 and in Sura 30:8 Allah is referred to as Makara. It therefore stands to reason that if Allah is deceitful, and deceit can be good. If Allah can practice kyhr, subterfuge, which has a similar word in Farsi (Persian, the language of Iran), practicing subterfuge can be good.

The Koran tells a glorious story which teaches that Allah will plot against those people who plot against him and Allah will win out in the end. Dahlan has a modern day take on the story.

Quoting from his interview with Palestinian TV, Dahlan said: "I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel even today."

And he is not alone. Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah chair and the president of the Palestinian Authority gave voice to almost the exact same sentiment in 2006 when he said: "Hamas is not required to recognize Israel ... It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front [to liberate Palestine] to recognize Israel."

And he gave voice to it on PA TV when he said: "The PLO, in 1993, recognized Israel. As Israel recognized the PLO. Every person has the right to say "I do not recognize," okay? It's your right. It is the right of every organization. But the government which will be formed, and which will function opposite the Israelis on a daily basis ... every hour and perhaps every second, there will be contact between Palestinian ministers and Israeli ministers. And I ask - how can this government, or these ministers, not recognize their counterparts, and then solve people's problems?"

It's a good question. The simple answer is, they can't. Israel and the West must try not to let deceit and subterfuge and double speak get in the way.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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